Mobile can equal opportunity—particularly in regions with emerging economies. Think easier paths to entrepreneurship, improved access to healthcare services and information, faster access to money—just as a few examples.
About 75 percent of the world now has access to mobile networks, according to a World Bank report from 2012, and about 5 billion of the world’s 6 billion mobile subscriptions are in developing nations.
In a recent Huffington Post commentary, Qualcomm’s Peggy Johnson describes an emerging economy “that is powered by micro-entrepreneurs who use a single mobile phone to connect their villages in Indonesia to the world or who, by using a wireless financial transaction network, enable instantaneous and secure financial transactions in Kenya.”
Mobile apps are key to delivering these benefits. As the World Bank states, they not only empower individual users, they enrich their lifestyles and livelihoods, and boost the economy as a whole.
Around the world, governments, non-profits and others are taking advantage of the proliferation of mobile to help vulnerable communities: It’s increasingly common to deliver health and social services via mobile technology.
“Medic Mobile is trying to focus across the spectrum of technology and looking at what people have in their hands now,” explained the company’s Amanda Schiff. “In most places in the world, it’s still very simple phones. So we’re making applications that can run on basic SIM cards and in any GSM phone.”
Medic Mobil’s successes include programs in which hospitals double the number of patients they were treating for TB in just six months and vaccination coverage rates increase from 60 to 99 percent, thanks to text messaging.
Innovative mobile apps abound—from healthcare apps like those from Medic Mobile to apps that improve access to water and provide critical agriculture information to rural farmers.
mPedigree tackles the problem of counterfeit drugs by enabling people to send the code printed on the packaging, via text or SMS, to the mPedigree system, which reports back on the drug’s authenticity.
It’s a mobile world—and thanks to mobile apps, it’s a world of growing opportunities.
Check out this great World Bank Infographic: